Friday, January 29, 2010

Pharaoh's Wrath

Moving two million people off the beach wasn’t easy. People waited hours in line just to enter the ocean path.

It was nearly midnight before the last Hebrew tribe began to leave. Joshua rode at the back of the queue, keeping an eye on the stragglers - old people too tired to walk and youngsters half asleep.

With the beach much quieter and almost empty, he could hear strange noises from the Egyptian camp. Their horses were nervous and frightened. None of them could sleep so their masters kept whipping them in anger.

“Hurry up now,” urged Joshua like he was herding sheep. “Move along quickly. Don’t be afraid.”

“I’m not afraid,” replied a widow, “just not as young as I used to be. I’m not even sure if I can make it across.”

Joshua dismounted his horse to help her.

“If God can part the Red Sea, he can look after you,” he said helping her onto a hay cart. “I suggest you get some rest.”

“Thank you. You’re a fine young man. A good man.”

“Just doing my job, and I’m not that young.”

Joshua climbed back on his horse and galloped around to the southern dunes for a better view of the ocean. It was a sight he would never forget. The trail of lamps and torches stretched for miles across the dark ocean floor. Light danced and flickered along the watery walls with astonishing beauty.

They had a tough march to reach the other side before daylight, and who knew when Pharaoh would catch on to what was happening? Joshua didn’t want to wait to find out.

Farewell Egypt, he thought.

Farewell and good riddance.

He kicked his heels and galloped down into the ocean to catch up with the others.

The land bridge across the eastern arm of the Red Sea spanned some twelve miles across to the Arabian coast. Joshua kept watch at the rear of the march, keeping one eye on the deathly darkness behind him.

An hour after midnight, the first of the Hebrew tribes reached the other side with much celebration and relief. But even at the cracking pace Moses set for them, it was taking longer than expected. All the while, tiredness and fear gnawed away at Joshua’s will, like starving rats keeping him awake all night.

It was only a matter of time before death would pursue again.

By three in the morning, at the changing of the guard, the Egyptian night watchmen noticed the dark mist had lifted as quickly as it came the evening before. The beach was visibly empty in the dim moonlight, and all that was left were thousands of footprints heading out to the sea - or more accurately, where the sea once was.

Far in the distance, thousands of lights from the Hebrew slaves could be seen marking a trail right through the vast ocean canyon. Every twinkle of their glow mocked the Egyptians, almost daring them to follow.

Awakened from his listless slumber, Pharaoh immediately marched down to the beach and saw for himself the Hebrew’s way of escape. His white hot fury wrestled to overcome his better instincts.

If he followed the Hebrews into the canyon of water, what could stop him from drowning? If he allowed them to escape, could he live with the humiliation?

Almost anticipating his thoughts, Nemetha pulled up beside him.

“My Lord, stay here. I’ll chase after them. The victory will be the same, whether by my hands or yours. But if I die, Egypt will still have you on the throne.”

“Who do they think they are, making a fool of me?” Pharaoh replied.

His answer was more honest than intended. He despised both scenarios; a hollow victory or the shame of allowing the Hebrews to escape.

He quickly harnessed his chariot and charged down into the ocean road, with every Egyptian following in his wake.

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